Back to School fever has hit and I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to share some Writing Tips with you. Writing, like everything else, takes practice. Once you master one area, you become better at it until it becomes second nature. So grab your yellow #2 pencils and let’s get started…
A- Advice is everywhere, thanks to social media. 30+ years ago, it was much harder to tread through the publishing waters. You had to paddle your way through and it was very difficult to be a successful writer. Today is very different. I recommend asking a lot of successful writers, agents, publishers questions. Most of them appreciate that you’re simply asking a question. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the more likely you will succeed.
B- Blogging is a great way to not only promote your writing but to improve your writing as well. What should you write about? Many blogs are all over the place and as a reader, it can be confusing. I choose to write about a few key areas (my book, my writing and inspiring thoughts of the day). I find that keying in on a specialized area brings more followers and is not confusing.
C- Creative writing ideas can come from anywhere. You could be walking down the street and BOOM, an idea hits. You want to write it down so you don’t forget but you don’t have anything to write on. Bring a notepad/sticky notes wherever you go. Use your notepad app on your device. Write it down as soon as it strikes you. Trust me, it helps immensely!
D- Dedicate a specific time of the day for writing. I know that this may sound obvious but trust me, life tends to intervene in your writing time. I schedule a block of time every day and call the appointment “writing”. You will get into a routine and your brain will register that it is 2:00…time for writing.
E- Editing is hard. It is one of the most gruesome tasks a writer has to do. It is absolutely essential, though. Think of it in terms of gemology. All jewels/gems come out of the ground and they look very dirty/plain/ordinary. Take a chisel and start peeling away layer after layer. Once that is complete, you take a buffing stone and polish the jewel/gem to a brilliant shine. When you are done, you have a shiny beautiful exceptional jewel/gem. The same can be said for editing. It’s painful but you have to do it to reveal the diamond in your writing.
F- Family/Friends are great support and I recommend that you tell them about your writing venture. They will not only be your cheerleaders but will understand when you have to excuse yourself to write.
G- Grammar is obviously important in all writing. There are many resources out there and I have a few. I urge you, though, to not get caught up in proper grammar rules when writing. It can stifle the creative juices and I recommend dealing with the grammar when you are editing/revising.
H-Harness your inner Hemingway. Ernest Hemingway is one of the greatest writers in the 20th century and he is one of my favorites. He approached writing in a logical way. He wrote what he knew or experienced. He was an observer of the world and it shows in his writing. Do the same, no matter what your topic is.
I– Inspiration is one of the greatest tools a writer has. Inspiration sparks a book idea, writing style, dialogue, plot and voice. What’s your inspiration? Whatever it is, clutch it tightly to your heart and never let it go.
J-Judge your writing as if you are a seeing it for the first time. I am my hardest critic. Most of my writerly friends are the same way. We’re so harsh on ourselves and sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. Take another approach and look carefully at your writing as if you were a literary critic. Pretend it’s not your writing but someone you don’t know. This works great, trust me! You will see your writing in a whole new light.
K- Keep detailed notes about your book. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, you need to keep track of everything. I find this extremely helpful when writing fiction. I have a hard time keeping track of all the characters and their names so I write their names and a one sentence bio on them in a notebook. It makes things a lot easier the further I get into the plot.
L- Locate your writing haven. This may seem like a pipe dream but I promise you this works. A writer needs a space where they can call their own. It maybe outside or in your home office. Wherever it is, make it yours. I have a writing haven and it has everything I need: nice view of the trees outside, sticky notes, inspiring writing quotes, a writing bear figurine for inspiration and a few notepads. Make it your own haven and then watch as the ideas just pour out of you!
M- Mentors are a great way to learn about the publishing business but writing as well. I have several and I met them online. They’re so invaluable to me and they truly make me a better writer! Grab one and listen carefully to what they tell you. Their insight and comments will make you a better writer, too.
N- Narrative is very important in writing, especially when writing a novel. Be sure you determine ahead of time whether you are writing first-person or third-person. The reader should never be confused by the narrative.
O- Outline your book. I know this may sound like work and in essence, it is. Writing is hard work and if you don’t have a general idea of what you want to say, your writing will be all over the place. It doesn’t have to be complicated and list every single aspect of your plot. It should contain these five things: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action & Resolution.
P-Publishing your writing is so exciting but it can be daunting too. There are so many options out there and it can be confusing. My advice, do your homework. Research all areas of publishing before making a decision. There are many resources on Twitter to help you out. If you need advice, send me an email and we can talk further.
Q-Querying can be a nightmarish task. Many writers don’t know how to do it and I am here to help. You have to think of it in business terms. A query is like an application and cover letter for your dream job. You’ve got to grab their attention, be professional and for pete’s sake, don’t query an agent/publisher on Twitter. A query is your first impression and trust me, it matters!
R- Revising your writing is hard and it can be emotional too. I mean, those are your words and your dialogue. It takes blood, sweat and tears. Being a writer means you are willing to open your chest, lay your heart on paper and wait for the world to judge it. Like editing, though, it must be done. You want your writing to shine like a diamond, right? You want to make an impact and inspire others. Just do it!
S- Social Media is a great tool for writers but you have to be careful. Everything you post is saved by Google and agents/publishers/readers/reviewers will see it. I love Twitter and it can be a great tool for your writing platform and to also connect with other writers.
T- Trust in yourself and your writing. I am guilty of being unsure of my writing and it has led to some self-doubt. Trust in yourself and everything else will fall into place. You are your number one cheerleader and no can tell a story like you!
U-Unleash Your Emotions. As a writer, you need to be able to connect with your readers. The only way to do that is to be free of any constrictions. Let the floodgates go and let your emotions run free! It is the key to being an authentic writer.
V- Visualize your scenes as if you were watching a movie. When I am writing, I find it immensely helpful to close my eyes. I let the scene I’m working on play out in my mind and then I let my fingers write it down before I lose the imagery. In this age of YouTube, it is very effective for writing.
W-Warning to all Writers: Not everyone will love your writing and some may in fact hate it. It’s a reality and as writers, we must remind ourselves of this. Remember, just because someone doesn’t like your writing doesn’t mean it isn’t brilliant. Please also remember to remain professional and don’t lash out at those who don’t like your writing/story. Go online and check out the reviews of your favorite author. Then keep on writing!
X- Xchange ideas with other writers. This may sound weird but it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to bounce ideas off other writers. Writers understand better than a normal person. You can do this virtually or live. They include writing groups, workshops and conferences. They are a great way to learn more about writing but also how to make your writing better.
Y- Yield to your inner voice. This is your writing muse and it will tell you in a soft voice which path to choose. I listen to mine and allow her to guide my writing. She leads me down a path I didn’t know existed and it’s a wondrous place to be. Can’t hear your muse? Be still and maybe meditate/pray/sleep. Clear your head of all distractions and your muse will appear.
Z-Zzzz. When you are stuck in your writing, it helps to sleep on it. I do this many times when writing my current book and trust me, it helps! When you sleep, your subconscious is awake and working out the plot while you’re at rest. In the morning, you will feel refreshed and the ideas will flow like water.
Calling all writers: share a writer tip using the comment section below. We all could use a tip or two to be better writers, no matter how long we’ve been writing/publishing.